Students and faculty of Montclair State University listened to a live state of the university address given by President Susan A. Cole on Wednesday, May 6.
During her address, President Cole stated that this occasion was quite different from her usual annual spring addresses. She highlighted the current circumstances surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the way the university plans on moving forward during this time.
“Today is a more muted occasion,” Cole said. “This time is the first in which we have had to address such a difficult situation without being able to be together in the fellowship of our university community.”
Montclair State has since received $20 million in federal support under the CARES Act. While half of it is going toward emergency financial aid for students, the other half is going to the institution’s coronavirus expenses.
“We are grateful for that help but it is not sufficient to address the situation,” Cole said during her speech.
The university remains unsure of the course the pandemic will take in the near future and cannot estimate the amount of pandemic expenses required to respond to the ongoing crisis.
“The economic impact of the coronavirus in this region is immense and continues to grow,” Cole said. “I have confidence that the state’s economy will be rebuilt but it will not happen in a day or in a year. It will take time.”
In regard to the impact of COVID-19 on New Jersey’s economy, President Cole mentioned that the state will most likely not be able to provide adequate support to its public universities.
One of President Cole’s additional concerns was that a large number of students may feel as if they can no longer afford to attend Montclair State at this time due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The university is finalizing a plan to enable students to receive $10 million in CARES Act emergency financial aid this spring, summer and fall.
Although the university will not know what the status is until the end of July, Montclair State is working on scenarios for campus life and campus activities.
President Cole stressed that the university is trying to preserve the jobs of its faculty and staff. However, many temporary staff are on a strict hiring freeze with exceptions for critically needed positions.
She addressed that there are alumni and supporters who continue to provide support for scholarships and send messages of encouragement to students.
A small group of campus experts have been providing the most critical health and safety issues for Montclair State. President Cole is expanding that group to advise her on the development of protocols to use when the campus begins to reopen.
“I miss you all profoundly,” President Cole said. “Truly I do and I look forward to the time when we will all be able to be together again.”
To listen to President Cole’s full speech, visit the university’s YouTube channel, WMSC radio 90.3 FM or iHeartRadio.